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Saying Sorry Effectively: Government Apologies for Historical Wrongs

White, Nicola
June 4, 2015

Source: (2007) In Gabrielle Maxwell and James H. Liu, ed., Restorative Justice and Practices in New Zealand: Towards a Restorative Society. Wellington, NZ: Institute of Policy Studies, Pp. 235-259.

“The core question tackled by this paper is how the impersonal apparatus of the state can apologise effectively — in short, how does the government of New Zealand say sorry ‘like it means it’ so that ‘victims’ will accept the apology? The perspective here is primarily practical, focusing on examples that took place between 2000 and 2005. For reasons of space, only limited attention is given to important and closely related questions, including in what circumstances apologising is appropriate in the first place, and the relationship of the Labour-led government’s apparent restorative agenda to deeper constitutional quesitons about the citizen-state relationship. The detail of these processes nevertheless suggests important lessons in terms of effectiveness and risks, and briefly situates those lessons in some of the literature on the topic of state-based reconciliation processes and restorative justice theory.” (Abstract)


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